It's Time To Talk About The New House

Michelle Gage // It's Time To Talk About The New House
Michelle Gage // It's Time To Talk About The New House
Michelle Gage // It's Time To Talk About The New House
Michelle Gage // It's Time To Talk About The New House
Michelle Gage // It's Time To Talk About The New House
Michelle Gage // It's Time To Talk About The New House

I've been putting off writing this post for a while now. Not because I was dreading it, because I have so much to say and barely know where to begin.

In November, we sold our first house (of 3.5 years) and moved into our forever home. We spent the entire time renovating it, room by room. We started by painting the entire place ourselves then moved onto meatier projects, like renovating our kitchen. We truly enjoyed the process of fixing up our first place, but honestly came to the end of the project. We fixed up everything we possibly could, while not pricing ourselves out of the neighborhood we were in. The changes we made were worth it for us to enjoy while we were still living there, but also made for a sound investment when it came time to sell.

Our hunt for our second house started last spring. We weren't looking to move, rather for a place to fix up and flip. This would mean that we'd have two mortgages until the second property sold. We found a gorgeous (but poorly cared for) 4,500 square foot Victorian that was beaming with potential. As we started crunching our numbers, we realized that we were about two years away from being able to take on a second property of this size. We quickly came to the conclusion that, if we did this NOW, we'd need to live in flip and not just have it as a side project. We decided, however, that if we were to move, we were never going to move again. So, our focus shifted. We were still itching to take on another project; we just needed to find one we'd want to live in forever. For many reasons (bad schools, small yard, expensive sewer issues, etc.), The Victorian wasn't it.

I'll skip passed the part where we saw a bunch of beautiful houses that didn't work out for one reason or another - and tell you that we found the one we bought while searching on Zillow late one night. Alex was actually out of town for work and I sent him a link, claiming that I found our forever home. It checked ALL of the boxes - and was under our budget. Considering that our wish list was insanely long (and somewhat unreasonable), we knew this gem was rare. We scheduled a date to see it with our realtor on the following morning and put in an offer right away. With a bit of back and fourth, the home became ours within a few days. As luck would have it, our home sold on the same day - actually, within the same hour. It was really hard to say goodbye to our first place, but we were overflowing with excitement for this next step. 

I'll be sharing more on the project specifics as we get into the nitty gritty. I have every single space designed (in my head) and I'm eager to get those thoughts into posts. At this point, our projects haven't been the most interesting to document. We got a new roof. We converted our heat from oil to natural gas. We've started by crossing off the "needs" items from our list, before diving into the fun projects we just want to tackle. Alex has made plenty of progress on the master bedroom, which I've shown lots on Instagram. Once the renovations are completed in there, he will move onto refinishing the floors. Then, we will bring painters in to paint and wallpaper (lots, duh) the entire place. Our old home, which was 2000 square feet, was a much more manageable amount of wall space for us to cover ourselves. Our new home is 3500 square feet, so we're calling in the troops!

I'm SO SO excited to document more of this space. Stay tuned to follow along as we rip out walls and pull down ceilings! 

Before + After: My Dining Room

Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Dining Room
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Dining Room
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Dining Room
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Dining Room

Our dining room tends to become our home's dumping ground. It's sort of like our temporary holding place. Too many bags of groceries? Dining room. Massive flea market haul? Dining room. I think this is mainly because it houses a large clean surface - our table. It is far too clean to not clutter up with other things.

This was one of the last rooms we tackled in our house. Three years ago, we moved in with a hand-me-down table and chair set. We even had an old (and really dirty) rug. I LOVED the existing wallpaper, so we chose to keep it. We wound up painting below the chair rail, but it truthfully wasn't too different that what the previous owner had.

We wanted to spruce the space up before our Apartment Therapy tour. That's where Wayfair came in. Our budget was bled dry from our last round of renovations. We needed some affordable and stylish options. 

Dark Wood Dining Table - sold out, similar / Wishbone Dining Chairs / Arteriors Zanadoo Chandelier / Blue Overdyed Rug - Be sure to get the right size!

Design Ideas: Wallpapered Powder Rooms

Michelle Gage // Design Ideas: Wallpapered Powder Rooms
Michelle Gage // Design Ideas: Wallpapered Powder Rooms
Michelle Gage // Design Ideas: Wallpapered Powder Rooms
Michelle Gage // Design Ideas: Wallpapered Powder Rooms
Michelle Gage // Design Ideas: Wallpapered Powder Rooms
Michelle Gage // Design Ideas: Wallpapered Powder Rooms

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

It's no secret - I'm all about wallpaper! Let's skip the story where I attempt to woo you into the idea and get right to it. If you're going to wallpaper, I want to help. 

Shop my favorite wallpaper sites:

Anthropologie

Calico Wallpaper

Chasing Paper

Hygge & West

Juju Papers

Rebecca Atwood

Wallshoppe

Before + After: My Powder Room

Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Powder Room
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Powder Room
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Powder Room

Alright, I will admit it, not every client wants a flamingo powder room. Heck, I have yet to have one make such a request. While it's not for everyone, it is for me. This is the wild wallpaper of my dreams and I am still so obsessed with it. 

To be transparent, wallpaper costs about 7x times as much as paint. There are a few places where your wallpaper really goes the extra mile. Your powder room is one of those places. Since it is such a small space, you don't have to make a huge investment/commitment. This space also allows the wallpaper to be the star of the show.

I've written a lot of articles on wallpaper and bathroom updates. Be sure to check each out. 

28 Simple and Budget Friendly Toilets

9 Powder Room Splurges You Won't Regret

20 Bathroom Wallpapers That Bring The Wow

My 63 Favorite Temporary Wallpaper Patterns

13 Bold Wallpaper Ideas For Your Powder Room

How To Choose The Right Sconces For Your Bathroom

20 Reasons To Be Entirely Obsessed With Pink Bathrooms

Before + After: My Home Office

Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Home Office
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Home Office
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Home Office
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Home Office

When we moved into our house, there was this awkward little room off of the dining room. The room had gross, red paper tile. Kitchen cabinets hung on the walls. It was a tight space, but there was potential for it to turn into valuable square footage. We envisioned it being the perfect place to keep a computer and the piles of paperwork that comes with being an adult. 

To transform this space, we ripped the cabinets out to make the room feel more open. The floors were replaced with the same slate tile we used in our kitchen. Alex built this super cool shelving unit and the amazing white desk. The desk leaves us plenty of room to work side by side. We truly don't need much storage in this space and the tiny closet we have does the trick. The wallpaper sets the room apart and adds some interest to this otherwise neutral setting. 

We're totally pleased with how the room turned out. It's a small space, but it fits our needs perfectly. I encourage you to attempt a mini makeover like this in your own home. We use this room than I could've imagined when we first moved in. BONUS!

Before + After: My Kitchen, After Photos + Sources (and what the heck it costs!)

Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Kitchen, After Photos + Sources (and what the heck it costs!)
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Kitchen, After Photos + Sources (and what the heck it costs!)
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Kitchen, After Photos + Sources (and what the heck it costs!)
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Kitchen, After Photos + Sources (and what the heck it costs!)
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Kitchen, After Photos + Sources (and what the heck it costs!)

Let's jump right into Part Two of My Kitchen Reveal. We tackled this project about a year ago and it's finally time to share the sources we used to complete this design. Let me preface by saying, Alex did ALL of the work himself. While I'd like to say that I was right there with him after work ripping out cabinets and tiling the backsplash - it was all him. The one thing we did hire out was patching a roof leak in our ceiling. Truthfully, that could've been excluded from the budget since it wasn't a part of the design (or plan) - BUT - it's real life and that was something we needed to tackle as responsible homeowners (and ones who didn't want to watch our kitchen renovation get poured on). Same goes for the dumpster. That was a cool couple of hundred bucks that we spent JUST TO THROW OUR GARBAGE AWAY! Home-ownership, while rewarding, is pretty pricey, people.

Here's a snippet of our sources and budget breakdown (ya know, the good stuff):

Cabinets - local company, $9500

Granite Countertops - local company, $7500  

Custom Tiled Backsplash – in partnership with Mercury Mosaics 

Flooring - Lowe's, $550

Sink - Lowe's, $300

Lighting - Wayfair, $600

Hardware - Anthropologie + Lewis Dolan, $650

Refrigerator - Lowe's (Whirlpool), $2000

Oven - Lowe's (Whirlpool), $450

Dishwasher - Lowe's (Whirlpool), $300

Microwave - Lowe's (Whirlpool), $200

Dumpster - local company, $450

Ceiling Repair - local company, $1500

Additionally, we spent about $1000 on miscellaneous tools at Lowe's to get the job done. As you may have guessed, we practically live there. The Lowe's team knew us by name after this renovation.

Keep in mind, your budget breakdown can differ from ours quite a bit. You could spend more money on the appliances and less on the countertops. You might not have a roof leak that requires repair and you may choose to invest in a contractor to manage a labor team. This is just a glimpse at how we did it.

Note that these are all round numbers to give you an idea of what you can expect when renovating your own kitchen. I tried to include all costs - taxes, shipping, warranties - to give you a better idea of the true total. Again, my husband did all of the work himself, so we saved AT LEAST $15k on labor, if not more. We also didn't remove any walls or change the room's layout. Sure, we thought about it, but that costs a sh*t ton of money that we didn't think was worth the investment for this space. When tackling a large and costly renovation, study your neighborhood. We were careful not to price ourselves out of ours. If we spent more than our final cost of $25k, we would start to see less of a return on our investment. Kitchens are one of those spaces where you usually wind up getting the majority of your investment back when you sell. If you are looking to tackle a kitchen renovation, I'd LOVE to hear about it. I hope this post gives you some valuable tools to take with you for a project of your own! 

 

 

A Peek Into My Home With Apartment Therapy

Michelle Gage // A Peek Into My Home With Apartment Therapy

Hey, guys! I've been keeping this secret for some time now and I am finally letting the cat out of the bag. This has been in the works since November so this secret-keeping hasn't been easy. My home is currently being featured on Apartment Therapy! If you are ready to gawk at loads of vintage goodies, I suggest you click here

Before + After: My Kitchen, Before + Progress

Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Kitchen, Before + Progress

Let me start this post by saying that this renovation was a long time coming. When we first visited this home - as perspective buyers - we were instantly intrigued by this space. It was quite large and obviously hideous. EVERYTHING needed to GO! The floors were dirty and sticky. The appliances appeared to be original to the house. The counter tops were held together with tape. However, the most hated feature in this space had to be the tan rubber baseboard. It was a breeding ground for grime and gunk. 

Kitchens are a costly renovation. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Don't be fooled by house flippers on HGTV who completely transform their spaces for $8,000. That's not real life. In real life, sh*t is expensive. Our cabinets alone cost more than $8,000. I'll dive into "what was spent where" in my next post. My point is that we needed to save up for this renovation. After putting our 20% down on the house, we were feeling a bit strapped for cash. We waited two years to tackle this room.

Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Kitchen, Before + Progress
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Kitchen, Before + Progress
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Kitchen, Before + Progress
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Kitchen, Before + Progress
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Kitchen, Before + Progress
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Kitchen, Before + Progress

Alex, my handy husband, tackled this whole project himself - with minimal help. His ability to work his a** off after his 9-5 work allowed us to save a good bit. Labor costs can be pretty close to material costs. With this $25k kitchen project, we probably saved about $15k on labor alone. 

Luckily for us, Alex enjoys this sort of work - though he has since vowed to never tile again. That's the pits! 

To see more progress photos from our renovation, check out #gagekitchenreno.

Before + After: My Living Room Reveal

Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Living Room Reveal
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Living Room Reveal
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Living Room Reveal
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Living Room Reveal
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Living Room Reveal
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Living Room Reveal
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Living Room Reveal
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Living Room Reveal
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Living Room Reveal
Michelle Gage // Before + After: My Living Room Reveal

Our living room is HANDS DOWN our favorite room of our house and I am so excited to share a little bit more about it! The "before" photos that you are seeing was what we walked into as potential home buyers. While the space didn't reflect our style whatsoever, there was a certain warmth and charm to the way the previous owner decorated. We saw that the space had potential. 

It is a long and narrow space, so coming up with the perfect layout was hard - I'm still not sure that this is it. When dealing with such a skinny space, you don't want to chop it up by placing a sofa dead center. Our Anthropologie sofa tucked in nicely next to the stairs. We flanked each side with a vintage trunk. The blue trunk is a find from college. Alex and I scored that baby for TWENTY BUCKS at our town's YMCA. The brown and more beaten up piece came from a local estate sale. It was one of the first pieces we bought specifically for this home. Truthfully, we didn't do anything to get it out of its weathered state. We liked it just the way it was and I'm not a big believer of restoring vintage finds - especially ones that cost just $75. 

Our first order of business when tackling this transformation was to rip up the hideous orange carpet on the stairs. We really wanted our entry way to be a focal point in the space. In order to complete that mission, we added a wallpapered accent wall. This print is one I had been coveting for years and makes me smile every day. It's one of the first things that guests notice when they walk into our home - that and the teal vintage table. While few people have actually spotted them, we do have a quirky pair of vintage roller skates at the bottom of the stairs. We picked them up at a local flea market last summer for just $15. 

We filled this space with our favorite vintage finds from the last few years. Each piece has a story. Nearly all of the artwork and decorative objects came from a thrift store, flea market or estate sale. The campaign dresser was a Goodwill find. The cream cabinet came from my parents unfinished basement - something that was neglected for over forty years.

The one thing that we loved about the original space was the vintage mirror hanging over the fireplace. We actually tried to buy the seller's off of her but she wasn't willing to part with it. We found a similar style a few months later at an estate sale and hung it up immediately. We knew we didn't want a TV in this space, so the fireplace was going to house either a mirror or art.

One of the features that drew us to this space was the fireplace and built-ins. Luckily, they were already in good shape and not in need of additional TLC. That section of the room is where Alex frequents; it's his reading corner. Fun fact, he has hand selected each and every vintage book in our house - we're talking about hundreds of books, people! Being the grandpa that he is, he actually reads them cover to cover. With such a steady hobby, I wanted to get him a special chair. This chair and ottoman set was a Craig's List find. The cushions were a terrible mauve paisley print and desperately needed an update. We ordered some soft grey yardage with a West Elm gift card and had a local shop stitch it up. We're pretty pleased with the results. 

You want your front room to show off your style. Our personality is certainly reflected in the other rooms of our house, but our living room captures "us" best. It's filled with Alex's favorite books and my favorite art. It houses the brass car horn we got at The Rose Bowl while visiting friends in LA. It holds the black and white ceramic dog, passed down from Alex's grandfather. This is a space that just makes us love coming home.